As he dodged another clanging pan that had been well-aimed at his head, Teaspoon tried to think back to how this evening started in the hopes of figuring out how what should have been a romantic time with his sweetheart had turned into Rachel throwing the contents of the kitchen at him.

He knew she'd been down and figured it was on account of Addie going off and spending some time with Heather and Cody. Seems Heather had just had another one, little boy. They named him Benvolio of all the crazy things. Teaspoon knew he was responsible. He was the one who told the boy to always have a copy of Shakespeare. Still, it was a good thing the kids had a famous father and they could shrug their unusual names off to his eccentricity.

At any rate, Addie had been missing Heather and they had sent her east to spend some time there. Rachel was never quite herself when Addie wasn't there. It worried Teaspoon something fierce. Addie was fifteen and at some point they'd have to think about sending her off to school. The offer stood from Cody himself to send her to Vassar College right out there in New York. If she didn't want to go to school, she would probably find a nice young man who'd want to marry her in a couple of years. Either way, Rachel wasn't going to always have Addie around.

So Teaspoon had come over with flowers and every hope of cheering her sad mood. She'd been crying when he came in. Surely missing her Addie. Nothing else was amiss in their life right then. Lou and Kid were doing great. Jamie and Mary growing strong. Buck and Jenny had a new little one, a girl named Sally after Jenny's ma. Jimmy had even come home to them. It had been one of the happiest days of their lives when he came riding in. All that happiness had turned to worry quickly enough. Sure Teaspoon had known about the lady Jimmy'd taken up with and how he loved her but surely none of them could have predicted her showing up battered and seven months along with a baby she said was Jimmy's. He confirmed the timing was right. Oh those two had a time of it before they finally got married and their little Emmy was born. That had only been a few months ago. It was maybe a month ago they got word about little Ben Cody and Sally Cross wasn't but a week old. Things were good except for Addie being gone.

Teaspoon had to admit to missing her too. So he thought he could soothe her tears when he arrived. She was having none of that and turned on him. All the passion of her sad tears turned to venom at his very existence. Teaspoon had been married six times in his life, been with more women than that by far and still he had no idea what was going on here. He just hoped she ran out of things to throw soon.

Finally objects stopped flying his way and he wasn't sure if she ran out of projectiles or just energy. Looking at her he guessed something close to the latter. He chanced a look toward her to see his love leaning heavily on the doorway, her body wracked with sobs.

Before he had even made any conscious thoughts to do so, Teaspoon went to her and held her tightly. She tried to fight against him but simply lacked the strength. He led her to the couch and sat down with her.

"You might be surprised to know this but figuring women ain't really a strong suit of mine," he told her gently. "Maybe if it was I wouldn't've had to go through six wives to find the love of my life."

"Don't," she sniffled pushing him away from her. "Don't say pretty words to make me feel better when you don't mean them."

"Rachel, honey, I do mean them, every one of 'em. Why would you say I don't?"

She just glared at him and he felt like shrinking right where he sat.

"I know I done something wrong," he said, "I just don't know what."

"Really?" she asked. "You can't figure this out? You're too smart for me to buy that."

"I ain't that smart, Rachel. I like to think I am sometimes and maybe that's why I spend my time with so many youngsters. They make me feel smarter. Tell me what you want, Rachel. I'll do anything for you."

"Home," she said simply, "I want to go home."

"We got us a fine home right here, darlin'. Where do you need to go? I'll come with you if you let me."

"We?" she demanded. "We do not have anything. We most certainly do not have a home. I am not talking about a building or a place, Marshal Hunter."

She spat the last four syllables with extra fire.

Rachel knew she wasn't explaining things well and watching him squirm was part of punishing him for how rotten she felt. It wasn't even all his fault. It's not like she could blame him or anything. They'd had some good times, the two of them. It wasn't like any promises had been made.

"If you ain't talking about the house or this town or another town," he began patiently, "Then what is it? What is home, Rachel?"

"A dream," she replied, "A dream I can't have."

And then she dissolved into the same tears she was crying when he had walked in an hour before. They were getting nowhere.

"Addie will be back soon, sweetheart. I know you'll feel better then."

"This isn't about Adelaide."

"What is it about then? Please, tell me. I'd like to think all we been through so far that we can get through anything else."

Rachel sighed and tried to collect herself.

"Home," she said again, "It's not a place. It's a feeling. When I was married…before everything went wrong…I had the love of a man who was willing to pledge himself and his heart to me. I had a life growing inside me. I was home. If we spent every night in a different place…it would have still been home as long as he was there to hold me, as long as our child was there."

She took a break to catch her breath and dab at her eyes then resumed speaking.

"I see what I want everywhere I look but in my own life. Heather and Cody have it. Wherever they are, wherever he drags her, they're home as long as they have each other and those babies. Buck…I worried he'd never feel a home anywhere once the Express ended but he's got Jenny and Sally. Even Jimmy came back to us, to people who love him but now…even if we're all gone, he has Faith and Emmy. I have my Addie but I won't forever. She'll find her own place to belong with someone else in time. Maybe she goes to school first and maybe she doesn't but she'll be home for someone else. It's the way it's meant to be."

Teaspoon finally got it, or thought he did.

"You're home to me, Rachel."

She shook her head.

"No, I'm not. I can't be. If…if that was true…but I can't blame you either."

Puzzle pieces started to fall into place in his head.

"You think 'cause I'm a scared old man that I don't really love you? You…how I feel for you…that ain't got nothing to do with why we ain't married."

"Scared?" she questioned, "Guess I can't blame you there. I'd be scared too of living out my days with someone broken like me."

"Broken? Now listen here Rachel Dunne, you are not broken. You are perfect, a walking angel. I just…well, I guess I know that having that many wives…some of 'em I couldn't have saved the marriage because death did us part but the rest…well, things was always real good until we got married. I don't think, even after all I been through, that I'm all that good at being married, Rachel. I don't want to chance losing you."

Her brow furrowed.

"You won't even ask me to marry you because you're afraid you'll lose me?" she pondered, "Teaspoon that doesn't even make sense."

"You ask them boys of ours and they'll tell you nothing I do or say makes sense. They're probably right too. I don't deserve a woman like you, Rachel. I'm an old man with my best years behind me. I ain't good for much but silly stories of the old days. I guess I wanted you to be free. You'll get bored of me. I know you will…don't want you to feel bad or beholden when you do."

She just started crying again. Not just crying but sobbing and laughing nearly hysterically too. She knew she looked like some sort of crazy woman but she just couldn't help it. It was too sad and too funny at the same time. She didn't register at first the fingers tender and soft on her cheeks, brushing away her tears or the lips that pressed gently against her forehead. It took her a while to hear the soft whispers in her ears. The words weren't from any of his usual type of speech. They were sweet and repeating and filled with how he loved her and would always and that everything was alright.

"You shouldn't, you know," she choked out when she could finally staunch the tears enough to speak. "You shouldn't love me."

"Not something I can help," he said, "Aside from being the most beautiful woman for miles, I ain't likely to find a heart like yours anywhere around here either."

"But…you should have a whole woman."

"We ain't exactly strangers, Rachel," he said with a small chuckle. "I ain't noticed no pieces missing off'n you."

"A real woman, a whole woman could give you children. I wasn't sure after I lost the baby Henry and I were to have but now I know. We haven't exactly been careful. I wasn't trying to trap you or anything but I wasn't careful and I had kind of hoped…but I just can't."

"Now what on earth do I need with a baby?" he asked honestly. "I ain't saying I wouldn't love it if one came along but you already gave me a child, Rachel. I got lots of 'em and one was direct from you. Our sweet Addie. She calls me 'Pa' and my heart near to bursts every time."

"But she's not really yours."

"She is as much as she's yours. She is as much as Buck and Jimmy and Cody and Kid and Lou," he stated openly. "You ain't less a woman 'cause you can't have a baby. You're more of one for how you opened your heart to those boys and girls."

She looked up at him. Her eyes were wide and imploring, almost like a small child wanting to believe that there really were no monsters under the bed.


"Yes really," he replied, "It's a brave thing you done telling me all this. You couldn't've known how I'd react. Guess one brave turn deserves another."

He slid off the couch with a grunt and knelt before her on one knee.

"Rachel Dunne," he said, "I been running from my own failures too long. I ain't sure it's possible for you to forgive me for not seeing how different you are, how different this is. It is though. It is very different. It's been a long time now that your arms have been home to me. That I ain't said so ain't excusable. I want to go home too. And I want you to have a home. If anyone deserves a home, a true home, it's you. How about we surprise our little Adelaide and let her come home to a wedding? I'm asking you to marry me."

Rachel's tears renewed but there was no sadness to them anymore. Her hands flew to her mouth as her head nodded frantically. She slid off the couch cushion and into his waiting arms.

"Welcome home, sweetheart," he said as he kissed her honey colored hair. "Welcome home."

Huh...not really much to say on this one. I think these two speak for themselves. Now this song, I have always loved Carole King and this song is so lovely. Just let me know what you think.-J

Home Again – Carole King

Sometimes I wonder if I'm ever gonna make it home again
It's so far and out of sight
I really need someone to talk to, and nobody else
Knows how to comfort me tonight

Snow is cold, rain is wet
Chills my soul right to the marrow
I won't be happy till I see you alone again
Till I'm home again and feeling right

Snow is cold, rain is wet
Chills my soul right to the marrow
I won't be happy till I see you alone again
Till I'm home again and feeling right
Till I'm home again and feeling right
I wanna be home again and feeling right